Keep your child safe when there is no custody or access order or agreement

What if I'm worried about my child's safety when they're with my partner?
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Keep your child safe when there is no custody or access order or agreement

Parents have an equal right to custody unless there is a court order or agreement that says something else.

Sometimes, the court will find that one parent has agreed to give another parent custody by letting the child live with that parent after the parents separate. But most of the time, the parents have not yet agreed, and each parent has an equal right to custody.

While there is no court order or agreement, the law does not have set rules about either:

The law uses a legal test called the best interests of the child to decide these issues. In general, the law assumes that it is usually better for a child to have a relationship with each parent after separation and to spend as much time as possible with each parent as would be in the child's best interests.

When there is a history of partner abuse, you might have specific concerns about your child's safety that make it reasonable for you to want to limit their contact with your partner. You can think about what could keep your child safe if you don't yet have a court order. For example, you might:

  • have a friend or family member supervise visits
  • have visits take place in a public place, where you can watch your child

If you're worried about your partner taking your child away and not returning them, you might want to keep your young child at home until you have a court order. If there is no order, the daycare or school cannot stop your partner from picking the child up and taking them away.

If your child is older, you might be able to arrange access by telephone or through an online video call service like Skype. Or, it might be safe for them to spend time with their other parent if they have a cell phone and can call you if they need help.

A safety plan can also help to keep your child safe.

You May Also Need

CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario/Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
Peel Committee Against Woman Abuse (This resource is written for women in abusive relationships but might help anyone in an abusive relationship.)
Reviewed: August 31, 2017

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